Technical Managers – All We Do is Forward Emails

A developer tells me “the only thing managers do is forward emails”.  I knew I couldn’t convince him otherwise so I didn’t bother correcting him. He’s wrong by the way! Managers like me also schedule unproductive meetings and sit at our desks the whole day, thinking of how to make developers’ lives miserable :)

The developer is right partially in that part of my job is to forward emails. Below are  some  emails I have forwarded throughout the years:

* Customer’s appreciation of the wonderful job my staff have done for them. I forward them to my team and/or to the staff as well as to my director and those above them. This is my way of recognizing their efforts and building their reputation with the upper management.

* Customer’s questions/requests.  There  have been many times when my customers asked for my help to move a request forward in purchasing equipments or starting projects.

* Email about why a system suddenly stops working. Sometimes I would get emails from customers and other developers about a system not working. Unfortunately, changes to the system, either through changes to code by developers or network/server settings by IT administrators are made without informing those affected of the changes made disrupting the system

* Emails from upper management about policy changes.

There have also been times when I have had to what provide what I call “value-added email service.”  In addition to forwarding emails, I have had to add my perspective/interpretation on the issue in the email. For example:

* Translating technical jargon into words understandable by lay people.

* Apologizing to our customers about an email sent by a tech person which they perceive as disrespectful and accusatory.

* Apologizing to our customers about the disruption of their service caused by an unauthorized change to the their system.

I think every developer (including me) at some point have probably thought that managers are unnecessary layers of bureaucracy. From experience, only when a developer assumes a leadership/management role in an organization will that person truly appreciate the values of middle management.

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